Toronto Maple Leafs: James van Riemsdyk set to fly back to Philadelphia

COLUMBUS, OH - DECEMBER 20: Head coach Mike Babcock of the Toronto Maple Leafs talks James van Riemsdyk
COLUMBUS, OH - DECEMBER 20: Head coach Mike Babcock of the Toronto Maple Leafs talks James van Riemsdyk /

The JVR era is apparently over for Toronto Maple Leafs fans, with the winger reportedly set to return to the team which drafted him back in 2007.

Well, it was fun while it lasted, but the James van Riemsdyk era is apparently over in Southern Ontario. And we’re sure Toronto Maple Leafs fans will agree he’ll be sorely missed.

Van Riemsdyk is on the move. And according to reports, he’s headed back to where his NHL career started.

As per Sportsnet’s Mike Johnston, the 29-year-old is set to sign a contract with the Philadelphia Flyers on Sunday, once free agency officially begins. The news was first reported by Elliotte Friedman.

In reality, the likelihood was always that van Riemsdyk would not be sticking around in Toronto, even though both the player and the team hoped otherwise. However, demand for his services was always going to up the price to a region the Leafs couldn’t justify.

In that respect, details of the winger’s deal with the Flyers have not been confirmed at the time of writing. However, as per ESPN’s John Buccigross, he has reportedly signed a five-year deal, worth $7 million per season.

More from Toronto Maple Leafs

Given van Riemsdyk’s production during his time in Toronto, you don’t imagine Leafs fans will begrudge him. They are fully aware he deserve a decent raise after earning an average of $4.25 million during these past six seasons.

When the Middletown, New Jersey native first arrived in Southern Ontario, no one knew for sure what to expect. However, pretty much from the word go, he helped turned around the fortunes of the franchise.

During his first season with the Leafs, van Riemsdyk registered 32 points (18 goals and 14 assists). In the process, the team ended a playoff drought that started following the 2003-04 campaign.

In three of the following five seasons, the 2007 second overall draft pick finished second on the team in overall points. And on two occasions he led the Leafs in goals, including this past season.

In total, van Riemsdyk scored 294 points (154 goals and 140 assists) in 413 regular season games for the Buds. He added another 14 points (seven goals and seven assists) in 20 playoff appearances.

About the only criticism you could label against the US international from his time in Toronto, was that he wasn’t always on top of his game defensively. Regardless, his overall quality was obvious and he is a major loss for the Leafs.

Van Riemsdyk played as well as ever this past season, as evidenced by career highs in overall goals (36) and power play goals (11), unsurprisingly also resulting in a career best 14.5 percent shooting percentage.

This led to JVR being the top winger among this year’s free agent class. As per Johnston, there was considerable interest from a number of teams, including the Sabres, Devils, Rangers, Bruins, Blue Jackets and Golden Knights.

Ultimately though, van Riemsdyk has decided to return to Philadelphia, where his NHL journey began. There is no denying he thoroughly deserves his new contract, but the fact he won’t continue his career in Toronto is a tough pill for Leafs fans to swallow.

Next: Is Tobias Rieder really worth pursuing?

What are your personal highlights from JVR’s time with the Toronto Maple Leafs? And do you believe the Buds should have done more to keep him in Southern Ontario? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.